Visualizing Their Future: Girl Scouts Beyond Bars Career Day

What Do You Want To Do?

A lawyer, a veterinarian and a photographer walk into a room… Okay, you might be wondering: is this the start of a bad joke? Not at all! Instead, it starts to describe all the fun professional fields girls got to explore during a Girl Scouts Beyond Bars (GSBB) event this month!

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” It’s hard sometimes to know the answer to that question, whether you’re eight or forty-eight! Girls in this Outreach program got to partake in a special event this month to help them figure out the answer to that question. With a wide range of speakers ranging in professionals like a staff analyst at Boeing (Dana), a social worker (Lara) and a surgical technician (Alison), girls got to interview and interact with women professionals on the School of Social Work at University of Washington campus.

Girl Scouts Beyond Bars is an Outreach Program for daughters of incarcerated parents. Girls participate in activities planned by their moms and dads at monthly meetings at Washington State Corrections Center facilities. Girls make up two troops; Troop 8100 and 8101, and they do everything from STEM projects to earning badges with their parents. Three Saturdays a month, the troops travel to visit three facilities through western Washington: Washington Corrections Center for Women (WCCW) in Gig Harbor, Mission Creek Corrections Center for Women (MCCCW) in Belfair and Monroe Correctional Complex (MCC) in Monroe.

Once a month, the troops participate in other Girl Scout activities. This summer they went roller skating, did an urban gardening day as part of their Forever Green Challenge, had an annual sleepover at two of the prisons and went to the Puyallup Fair. In October, they’ll be going to GirlFest!

Connecting Girls with Professionals

Career Day was September’s extra activity. “As girls start a new year of school we want them to think ahead and consider their potential career paths,” said Libby Compton, GSBB Program Supervisor. This program’s mission is to prevent intergenerational incarceration. “By providing girls the opportunity to speak to women that can empower them to take charge of their futures, we are getting them excited early on and showing them that becoming what they want to be is a tangible goal,” explained Libby.

In planning for Career Day, Libby had girls share what careers interested them. Careers ranged from becoming a model to a police officer! Though a female officer couldn’t make it, Sergeant Shin from Seattle Police was very excited to take the afternoon to talk to girls about working on the force.

The afternoon started with pizza as an ice breaker and each girl was paired up with someone whose career interested them. They got to talk one-on-one with the professional, and then the girls shared their findings with the group. Girls asked basic job questions like, “What are the most important tools needed for your job?” and some more tricky questions too, like: “Have you ever made a mistake in your job?” This question helped girls realize that no one is perfect and you can always learn from your mistakes- they come with the job!

Getting Hands-on Experience:

This special opportunity also let girls start networking early with women in the community. Professionals provided a holistic view of what they do at work, including wearing what’s appropriate in their workplace- from three piece business suits to scrubs (hospital uniforms)! Many brought in the tools of their trade to give girls a taste of their job. For example, Susan, a buyer from REI, put on a faux focus group with the girls. She brought in five winter jackets from this year’s girl collection and had the GSBB girls vote on their favorite. She then brought the results back to her buying team to make sure they’re well stocked in the favorite style for this winter!

Girls also got the chance to play with artificial bones (brought in by a surgical technician, Alison, from The Doctors Clinic in Silverdale) and to pet Ruby the dog (brought in by veterinarian, Colleen from Evergreen Hospital)! Ruby is blind from diabetes and the vet taught girls that dogs can get diabetes just like adults, and that it can be treated with just two shots of insulin a day. These were all great conversation starters and helped get the girls excited to learn more details about each of the career paths.

 “The goal of having girls chat with real women doing these jobs is to make these jobs seem realistic and attainable,” said Libby. The women also inspired girls with their stories of how they got to where they are today. For example, Carolyn Price, publisher of Outdoors Northwest Magazine, talked about her dream of running a magazine since she was a young. As a Girl Scout around eight years old, she went on a field trip to the Seattle Times and got to see the printing press. That sparked her interested in becoming a journalist. Her magazine is now 25 years old! Running, hiking and biking are all things she enjoys, and so she followed her passion to write about those things she most liked. Two Girl Scouts interviewed Carolyn during Career Day- one wants to run her own business by owning a nail salon and another loves sports and is interested in being a writer- Carolyn was a perfect role model!

Other careers showcased included ceramics artist (Madeleine), social workers (Lara), personal fitness trainer (Natalie) and elementary school teacher (Liz). Several of the women that presented were indeed Girl Scouts themselves, and continue to have active ties to the organization, volunteering as Fall Product Sale managers, troop leaders and more!

Tashayia, 15, already knows she wants to be a lawyer, but she learned about a lot of other career options too. She learned about personal training and being a buyer at REI- careers she didn’t know much about before Career Day. She’s specifically interested in being a criminal lawyer. “Growing up, I learned what I was interested in and the event gave me a chance to learn a bit more about the different types of law there are,” said Tashayia. “My favorite part of the day was talking with professionals about how they feel about working in their careers.”

Many of the girls were interested in careers that involve helping others. One Girl Scout named Marissa said she wants to help people and animals when she grows up. “Ever since I was little I knew the world wasn’t the best place for everyone and I want to work at making it better,” said Marissa. At the end of Career Day, she learned that the sky’s the limit in the kind of education you can get and the types of nursing you can do. As the girls wrapped up the day with a student-guided tour of the campus, they had an opportunity to really consider what their dreams are and how education and training can help them achieve everything they can dream!

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